CLOSE CONTEST: Overall winner Tom Bell is pictured out on the water.

Bell holds his nerve to seal narrow Lowland Trophy win at Welland Yacht Club

It was tight at the top of Welland Yacht Club’s Lowland Trophy leaderboard on Sunday – but Tom Bell eventually took the honours.

The three-race events adds an extra dimension to normal sailing, with competitors having to demonstrate some extra skills along the way, while personal handicaps are also applied to balance up the field.

Race one started with 11 boats on the water, but rather than a conventional start they had to cross the start line going backwards, which is not an easy thing to do in a sailing dinghy.

The Lasers of Bell and Gail Follington both made excellent starts, followed closely by Paul Burton in a Solo.

Bell made the best of this and gradually built on it to cross the line some four minutes clear of Follington and Burton.

Behind them were Alan Cox, also in a Laser, and then the pairing of Neal Tack and Rebecca Slator in their Graduate.

Bell’s lead was long enough to allow him to keep first spot, even with personal handicaps applied.

As the wind had dropped slightly a shorter course was set for race two – but the sailors had to pick up an obstacle from the water to further test their skills.

This time Burton made the most of a good start and, although Bell did manage to pass him, the lead was not sufficient to allow for the personal handicap.

That ensured that Burton took the win from Bell, with Cox taking third from Tack and Slator.

Martin Cook (Solo) came in fifth, with Katie Follington (Topper) beating her mum Gail into sixth.

WACKY RACES! The Welland Yacht Club competitors faced a host of different challenges on Sunday as they contested the Lowland Trophy.

Completing to line-up were Paul Wilson and Will Cook in eighth and ninth places respectively.

With one win apiece, race three served as the decider for the top spot.

And, instead of the normal start, Andy Prior – the officer of the day – opted for a Le Mans type start with competitors out of their boats and on the bank when the starting gun went.

As boats were lined up in reverse this meant both Burton and Bell started at the back of the fleet.

Despite that disadvantage, Burton still managed to make a good start, while Bell struggled to get his boat untied and started in last place.

Will Cook and Emma Hill, in their Scorpion, made a great start and were clear of the field for much of the race.

Unfortunately, Gail Follington’s tiller extension broke during the start forcing her to retire.

In addition to the unusual start, a chicane had also been added which competitors had to negotiate four times throughout the race.

As the race progressed, Bell managed to claw his way through the field and crossed the line in first place.

Cox took second from Will Cook, with Burton coming in fourth.

However, these results changed significantly once handicaps were applied leaving Cox first, Bell second and Burton third with less than a minute separating them.

Overall, this gave Bell the trophy by the slim margin of two points ahead of Burton with Cox taking third.

Full Lowland Trophy results: 1st Bell (Laser); 2nd Burton (Solo); 3rd Cox (Laser); 4th Tack and Slator (Graduate); 5th Martin Cook (Solo).

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